Claver’s life changed dramatically at the age of 13. An orphan who spent most of his life living in an orphanage, newly adopted Claver was transitioning into a traditional family structure for the first time. And this transition, his new parents realized, was going to be a process.
Developmentally, Claver had been delayed from years of being institutionalized in the orphanage. Issues in school arose because he had never learned how to interact with authority figures or other children. He also had trouble trusting his new parents.
But Claver’s new family wasn’t about to give up on him. Claver’s new father, Bernard, knew with constant care, attention, and support Claver could flourish, it would just take a little time.
Volunteers from the local church paid regular visits to Bernard, to encourage and train his large and loving adoptive family. They connected the family to sponsorship to help cover new expenses and school fees. Claver is now 15 years old and thriving thanks to the strong relationships he developed with his parents and siblings. He is also doing much better in school. Bernard proudly passes around Claver’s latest report card - boasting that he is now fourth in his class!
Sitting next to his son, Claver, and his younger son on the couch, Bernard explains his reasons for adopting, “You have to start with a wanting heart, not because others have done it. God has given me so much and I wanted to give back in a way. Now, I won’t sit down without a child in my home.”
Claver's healing will be an on going process. The relational pain he experienced while living in the orphanage will require care and attention from a family who knows and loves him. His rescue from the orphanage made possible thanks to the support of the local church and the generosity of Saddleback sponsors, who give Bernard and his family the support they needed to bring Claver home.
If you would like to begin sponsoring a family in Rwanda to help a child leave the orphanage and gain a forever family, please visit saddleback.com/sponsorship or email email@example.com
“If one family out of every four churches in the U.S. would
adopt a child, there would be no more orphans in the United States.”
Elizabeth Styffe, Director of the Orphan Care Initiative at
Saddleback Church, recently spoke with Ruth Bell Olsson, from Bethany Christian Services during their "Every Child" podcast, about the orphan crisis facing our world today and how the global
Church can be equipped to end this crisis by learning about God’s heart for the
“Not every believer needs to adopt, but every believer needs
to say, ‘What can I do to end the orphan crisis?’” Elizabeth says that the
Church is the only entity that cares for people from cradle to grave and that
God has called each of us to care for the orphan: “Every night, including
tonight, children are going to bed praying what my children say they prayed.
Every night they prayed for a mom and dad…It’s not overly dramatic, it’s not
overly emotional, this is real as it gets. This is reality.”
The local church can end the orphan crisis by helping
children remain in family, reunite with family, or regain a family of their own
through adoption. Elizabeth notes, “This is about doing for a child physically
what God has done for us spiritually.”
Listen to the full podcast here.
If you are interested in becoming involved with the Orphan Care Initiative, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 949-609-8555.
Karen and Marv Quinn are ordinary Saddleback Church
members who took a daring faith step to travel on an Orphan Care PEACE trip to
Rwanda. What they saw of the people, country, and the power of the local church changed their worldview,
and we asked them to share their experiences in their own words:
A PEACE trip to Rwanda in
some ways feels like a trip back in time to first century Christianity. The
entire country in unashamed about being on fire for Christ. There is an
unspoken dignity among the people and a palpable presence of the local church
Leaving Kigali we traveled
to the western province and the city of Kibuye. Rwanda is the country of a
thousand hills and we must have passed by 500 of them on our three hour drive
We had the privilege of
meeting with a pastor who leads a rural church in this farming sector of
Rwanda. His church has implemented the Orphan Care Initiative in a way that so
reflects his congregation. We were greeted with worship and the clamoring of
loving children who could not wait to sit next to us. The pastor spoke about
how families in his church were adopting orphans, attending parenting classes
and forming savings groups. Four of his members shared their testimonies, their
love for their church, their love for the pastor, and their dependence upon
Christ. One lady had overcome alcohol, accepted Christ, then found her self-
worth in Jesus and not in the bottle. Once healthy, she had gone on to adopt
and to participate in a savings group. Another had adopted, added to her own
biological family, participated in a savings group and with that money had
bought a pig because pigs reproduce quickly. Investing in livestock was a
ticket out of poverty. Her son is now completing his university education. All
four church members had adopted and given orphaned children loving mommies and
daddies. They all proudly held up their savings books because savings groups had
pulled them out of poverty. It was beautiful to see how Orphan Care initiative
and Savings Groups Initiative work hand in hand to help families, with the
church being the center of their success.
We followed the pastor to
a home visit whereby he regularly visits his members who have adopted to check
in on the family and the welfare of the children. Five of us were invited in to
this humble home with a dirt floor, mud construction and love that just exuded.
The husband was working and the wife invited us in to share her testimony and
to minister to us with her remarkable story. Years ago she and a man in her
village found a seven month old abandoned baby girl and brought her to the
local orphanage. They kept thinking about the baby all the time, and their love
for her prompted them to get married and then to adopt her. She is their oldest
child is now 12 years old. Since that time, the mother and her husband had two
biological boys. When we asked her daughter about school she beamed and the
pastor praised her on how much hard work she puts into her learning. The family
had joined a savings group, bought a cow and some chickens, and added onto
their one room home. The church is a family to families who adopt, orphanages
are closing, children are being raised in loving families and the church is the
hub of it all.
We witnessed the PEACE
Plan in action.
When Amerita learned from her local church that there were children in her community who needed loving families, she took a step of faith and made the courageous decision to adopt 13-year-old Felix from the orphanage. One year later, Felix now enjoys life as a much-loved son and spends his days playing with his three siblings - Claude (also age 13), Diane (10), and Fifi (8).
Amerita is excited to share via video all she has been able to do to care for her growing family through the generosity of her local church and Orphan Care Sponsorship.
WATCH THIS VIDEO to hear how sponsorship has impacted her family and her ability to care for her new son.
“GETTING TO ZERO” UPDATES
To begin sponsoring a family like Amerita's, visit Saddleback.com/Sponsorship.
As the distribution center for hope in the community, the local church is uniquely positioned to intervene on behalf of the orphan. In Saddleback’s Rwanda Orphan Sponsorship program, the local church in Rwanda determines which families will receive sponsorship and is responsible for providing families with volunteer social worker support. The partnership between Saddleback Sponsors and the local church is changing lives-getting children out of orphanages and into lifelong families! This month, check out a sponsorship update filmed by local Rwandan church volunteers highlighting the difference the program is making.
(The children) were very young when they first came, and they were 4 and 6 years old. They were very happy. They called me their mom and they were very comfortable. I made sure they went to school. One is in primary 5 and the other one in primary 6.
The Church and the Pastor started to come to visit the children. I didn’t even know the pastor, but I believe that it’s God who sent him to us. We were blessed by what God was doing through the support from the church.
When the support came from the church, I bought a cow so that it could help the children and built two more rooms in my home. I tell the children to always praise God and thank him because he’s the one who did this for us.
We thank God for the support and very grateful for the church. We thank God for the church, they visit us very often. And we always go to church to praise and thank God.
We no longer live a lonely life; we live a peaceful and happy life.
To learn more or become a Sponsor, visit www.saddleback.com/sponsorship.